Delaware in 1955 was experiencing a drought like no other. Crops were crispy dry, and farmers feared an entire loss for the harvest season. When hurricane Connie and Diane were in the area farmers had hope that the rains they would bring would save the crops. And at first… that’s what seemed to be happening.
Then on August 18th the rain storm took a turn for the worse. The two hurricanes brought down record rainfall over the next three days, causing some parts of the river to raise 30 feet within 15 minutes. Homes were torn from their foundations, vehicles overturned, resorts were washed away and 400 children were to be rescued from a camp ground by helicopter.
When all was done, nearly 100 people were killed, some of the bodies undiscovered until 30 years later and some still, have never been found.
Devastation On The Delaware is both fascinating and devastating at the same time. There were times while reading this I held my breath, feeling was about to happen as the pages turned and there was nothing I could do to stop….
Sadly, this is one of those world events that I had never heard of prior to my book club choosing to read this book for our February review. I have read many true stories on disasters through my life and this one in the beginning drew me in as it felt a little like the movie Twister, where the people had little to no warning before the waters went from the lake to encompassing the city.
While a book of this topic could seem a heavy read, Mary Shafer expertly keeps the reader engaged with stories from survivors that are both at times lite and funny, and yes, of course sometimes bring tears to your eyes. The book is also filled with engaging pictures of the flood and maps of the areas affected by this horrific storm. While Mary talks about weather pattern and other storm related data but not in a way that it goes over this readers head. She speaks in terms that I could certainly comprehend and imagine what the storm had to be like.
Mary brings a lot of people into the telling of the disaster and that is my only real struggle with the book is that I like to know the people being written about and many people are hard to follow who is who and usually sends me (and did) back paging to find the person again and go “oh yeah, that’s the one that….”. This is truly a “me” thing and others may have no trouble navigating the stories and those within each one.
Written in such a way that I felt I could have been there watching that water rise, Mary’s book is one not to be missed by those who like to read about history and events that changed our world and the people who experienced it forever. I was truly appreciative of the book and this will be one I will certainly keep on my shelf and refer to in the years to come.
You can find this book by following this link here.
Bookies Thoughts on this book:
My book club (all hail The Bookies!) read this as a group and reviewed it. As a whole we found Devastation On The Delaware to be be very interesting. While many of us needed much of the month to get through it because of the size and the topic, others had trouble putting it down once they opened it up.
We were fascinated by the stories (a particular one that comes to mind is about a horse) and the pictures. Living in Minnesota and near the Mississippi makes up familiar with water, but none of us had ever experienced anything as frightening as a dangerous flood.
We were lucky to have author Mary Shafer SKYPE in with us and showed us a slideshow of her research of the book and pictures of before, during, and after, the major flood. Her presentation was engaging and she would stop for our questions and comments. It was a wonderful addition to have her be a part of our review. She knew her facts, but she was funny too… and it was a fun evening of learning and laughing.
Of course… we had food 😉
You can find out more about this flood and others at: